Tusculum launches 2021-22 academic year with Convocation, new academic programs and activities for students

GREENEVILLETusculum University celebrated the launch of the 2021-22 academic year with flair Tuesday, Aug. 24, with the Opening Convocation, a formal ceremony that enabled the institution to reflect on the success of its students and prepare for the achievements to come.

Left to right, Dr. Katherine Smith, Dr. Robert Gall and Ken Brewer prepare for the start of the Opening Convocation.

Faculty and administrators dressed in full regalia, accompanied by a bagpiper into and out of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Center Auditorium, christened the start of classes for the fall semester. To protect the Tusculum family as much as possible during the pandemic, participants wore face coverings, and most of the rest of the university watched the event via livestream.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new students to the Tusculum family and are excited to once again see and interact with those who have returned this year to continue their studies,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, president of Tennessee’s first higher education institution. “They recognize the value of a Tusculum education and will experience tremendous success as they apply their heart, mind and strength to their collegiate experience. Our faculty and staff are eager to equip our students to be career-ready professionals who are civically engaged and shaped by our caring Christian environment.”

As the university embarks on a new year, Dr. Tricia Hunsader, Tusculum’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, took a few moments during the ceremony to highlight numerous achievements by the student body during the 2020-21 academic year.

Among these were education major Andee Lovin earning Tusculum’s highest score ever on the edTPA, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment used by teacher preparation programs throughout the country, and Jalia Arnwine, a criminal justice major helping drive the creation of an African-American Studies minor. Dr. Hunsader also highlighted the extensive academic awards by Tusculum student-athletes, the continuing research by students into anti-cancer drugs and the comprehensive business projects completed by Master of Business Administration students.

Left to right, Dr. Suzanne Byrd, Dr. Jeff Burleson and Dr. Miriam Stroder pose for a photo before the start of Opening Convocation.

“It’s pretty exciting to hear about all of the things our students have accomplished,” Dr. Hunsader said. “I think I have the most fun part of the whole ceremony by being able to share all of these with the Tusculum family and the community.”

The university enters the fall semester having adopted a number of new academic programs that will expand educational opportunities for students at the undergraduate level. These include a Bachelor of Arts program in arts outreach administration; a Bachelor of Arts in communication, with concentrations in theatre and arts outreach administration; a Bachelor of Science program in sport science pre-physical therapy/occupational therapy; concentrations in historic tourism and museum studies for a history degree, industrial organization for psychology, museum studies for art and design and mathematics education for grades 6-10; and minors in African-American studies and music.

Tusculum has also added a Master of Science in entrepreneurial leadership to the College of Business’ graduate roster. During the last two years, Tusculum has introduced 19 new concentrations to its Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.

Kick-starting the year, Tusculum has been holding Pioneer WOW – Welcome Orientation Week – for its new students. Designed to help these new Pioneers build relationships and adjust seamlessly to college, this program has given the students an opportunity to participate in a talent show, create their own TikTok videos, play a number of games at the Battle of the Freshmen event and perform a morning of service work on and off campus. The 10-day initiative will last until Saturday, Aug. 28, with events such as a carnival and hikes throughout the region.

During his remarks at the Convocation, Dr. Peter Noll, faculty chair and an associate professor of public history and museum studies, focused on Tusculum’s motto – Sit Lux – or Let There Be Light.

“At this, the formal beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, events beyond our campus make our motto and mission all the more urgent,” he said. “I charge our faculty to embrace our motto; to be steadfast in your pursuit of learning; to be generous with your gifts, with your patience and with your experience; and to be humble as you invoke and nurture the light of knowledge and understanding.”

Dr. Peter Noll addresses the faculty during the Opening Convocation.

Dr. Scott Hummel speaks during the Opening Convocation.

Dr. Hummel delivered a message that touched on wisdom and spoke to students about the direction they are headed and how they will get there. He reiterated the importance of going to class, submitting assignments and maintaining contact with professors to ensure an optimal outcome in a course and to earn a degree. He also emphasized the importance of integrity, quoting Proverbs 16:8 – “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.”

“The destination matters – where are you going, what is your purpose, what is your calling and what problem are you trying to solve?” Dr. Hummel said. “I encourage you to think more broadly than just what your major or minor will be. Consider not only how that major or minor enables you to attain a career but also how that career will allow you to fulfill your purpose. Your Tusculum education is going to give you the skills to get to your destination.”

To learn more about the university, please visit www.tusculum.edu.